WILLMAR, MINN. – Jennie-O Turkey Store, a unit of Hormel Foods Corp., reopened its Benson Avenue facility in Willmar, Minn., following a deep cleaning of the plant. Jennie-O closed the Benson Avenue plant and a second facility on Willmar Avenue in April as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“We remain committed to our industry-leading efforts to maintain and enhance safety protections for our team members and this community,” said Steve Lykken, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store. “We are glad to be reopening this facility and are working on our plans for reopening our other facilities including another location in Willmar and in Melrose, both in Minnesota.”

All Jennie-O Turkey Store employees received 100% of their base pay and benefits during the pause in production, the company said. Additional safety measures, such as wellness screenings, additional personal protective equipment and enhanced safety and sanitation protocols, also were implemented to help mitigate transmission of the virus.

The company restarted operations on May 7 with a core group of employees and plans to ramp up production over the next few days. Lykken said the company is now focusing efforts on a new awareness initiative called “KEEP COVID OUT!”

“This campaign reinforces the preventative measures throughout our facility and the efforts of our team members to keep COVID-19 outside of our building and out of our communities,” he said. “COVID-19 affects all of us and we must work together to stop its spread, both at the workplace and outside of work. As a leading employer in the area, and one with our core priority on the health and safety of our employees, we are certainly eager to get back to doing what we love and that’s making great food.”